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Thursday, 31 May 2018
The Clash - Live At Shea Stadium (1982)
Live recordings from 1982 at New York's Shea Stadium
There is a paucity of live Clash material, apart from "From Here To Eternity", which is a compilation of live cuts from 1977-1982, there is not much else. This, at least, is a full concert, from the end of The Clash's sadly all-too-short career, supporting The Who in the USA in 1982. They weren’t headlining though. The crowd were there to see The Who.
It is a shame that by now, The Clash had become a "stadium band" supporting a big, bloated rock act in the US. I prefer to remember them as I saw them, in 1000-capacity venues like Friars, Aylesbury or London's Lyceum. That was the true essence of The Clash live, a thousand pogoing, sweaty punks in a cramped indoor venue, not huddling from the rain outdoors, as they are here. Some of that feeling is caught on "From Here To Eternity" where there are some earlier tracks, but actually, about a third of that album comes from the 1982 US tour. There are also six tracks from 1978 at the London Lyceum included in the "Sound System" box set. These are probably the best live cuts out there.
Despite that, the material here is good. The band deliver some excellent versions that cover their all too brief career. A great mix of "The Magnificent Seven" and "Armagideon Time"; a powerful opener in "London Calling" followed by a rousing “Police On My Back” and then the bemused audience trying to make sense of the punky reggae of "Guns Of Brixton". Unfortunately, a punk classic like "Career Opportunities" gets a bit "stadium-ised" and loses a lot of its original energy. However, overall, the album is a good one. The sound quality is surprisingly good for an outdoor gig from 1982. A powerful memory of just how good The Clash were and what a shame it was that they split soon after this. Any bad feeling is certainly not apparent here, they go for it.
I must admit to a certain amount of pride listening to this oh-so-British band hitting the American audience between the eyes with “London Calling” at the beginning of the show. Then Joe Strummer tells the audience to “stop yakking” during “Police On My Back”. You tell ‘em.